The Young Independents (TYI) is all about the commemoration of South Africa’s young inspiring and aspiring leaders.
TYI would like to share stories of hope that serve to inspire our young generation of leaders:
Ms Natasha Ashley is passionate about international business and how companies operate in Africa.
She boasts a long list of achievements in her academic career and has recently been awarded a prestigious Skye Foundation Scholarship.
She is currently studying towards a Master of Science (MSc) degree in International Business and Emerging Markets at the University of Edinburgh Business School in the UK. In her school days, Natasha was Head Girl and Dux Scholar of Penryn College and was also placed in the top 61 students in South Africa on the IEB Commendable Achievers List for the National Senior Certificate Exams in 2011.
She went on to study for a Bachelors’ Degree in Business Management from the University of Pretoria and graduated cum laude in both her undergraduate and Honours degrees. She received the Mandela Rhodes Scholarship in 2016 that allowed her to pursue a master’s degree. She recently completed master’s dissertation had a specific focus on the challenges facing fast-moving consumer goods businesses in Nigeria.
According to Natasha, a pivotal milestone in her life was completing the Gold Standard of The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment, also known as The Duke of Edinburgh International Award for Young People. She said the Award Programme “challenged me to push myself in ways I never thought would be possible.
I grew as a leader and made me a more well-rounded individual. I hold my head high being a Gold Award Holder because I know the great personal journey that I walked. I grew immensely in self-confidence and learnt to never under-estimate myself – two valuable lessons that have helped me grow from strength to strength since completing the Award.
It is one of my greatest achievements and something that I encourage young people from all over the world to get involved in. Some of life’s most fundamental lessons and opportunities for self-development are learnt through the Award. What I love most about the Award is that it challenges you to be an all-rounder which makes it rather unique as many awards focus only on one aspect such as academics, sport or a skill.
This Award captures the essence of life: living it to the full while being aware of the needs of others, giving it your all and having fun along the way.”
Natasha continues to be involved with the Award in South Africa and is a member of the South African Gold Award Holder’s Association. She serves as a board member of the People’s Foundation in Ghana , the foundation focuses on strengthening and encouraging education in Ghana. When in South Africa, she facilitates diverse workshops with high school scholars, helping them to grapple with issues facing them in the globalised world of today.
She has the following advice to young people who want to be successful in life: “Set yourself goals, write them down, tell a friend – make it real. And then work hard towards them every single day. Remember that taking small steps every day will all add up in the future. Luck plays a very small role – the truth of the matter is you need to work hard and believe in yourself. Never stop trying and don’t underestimate your ability.
The road won’t always be easy. I have had my share of disappointments and frustrations, but I have learnt to live by the motto that it is not about how far you fall but how high you bounce back. I have learnt many profound lessons from my time at school and university that have prepared me well for the new chapter of my life that I have embarked upon.
I am a strong believer that the right doors will open at the right time. I am learning to make peace with letting go of the things not meant for you and embracing the wonderful blessings that do come your way. I attribute a lot of my success to the lessons my parents taught my sister and me at home which were to treat our talents and strengths like muscles – if you use them they get stronger and if you don’t, they get weaker.
At the end of the day, there is no quick and easy way to academic success; I never took shortcuts. It has taken a lot of self-discipline and a great amount of energy, determination, self-coaching, sacrifice and a strong belief in my ability to achieve my goals. It was definitely worth all the effort and long hours to be enjoying the rewards and opportunities that I am reaping today.”
There is no doubt that Natasha will be an excellent ambassador for South Africa abroad.
Stories of Hope is a partnership between TYI and TPA.
Comment on Natasha’s story of hope by following @theyoungindy on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.
[For more stories of hope, access www.tyi.co.za or submit your story to TYI Editor, Saajida at
Background to The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment:
The President’s Award for Youth Empowerment (TPA) is affiliated to The Duke of Edinburgh’s International Award for Young People and is a full member of the International Award Foundation which oversees the Award Programme in over 140 countries globally. TPA creates opportunities for young people to develop character, discover their purpose and determine their future to contribute towards building a great South Africa. The Award Programme targets 14-24-year-olds across the socio-economic spectrum, from public and private schools, children’s homes, correctional centres, tertiary institutions, etc.
Participants progress at their own pace through three levels: Bronze, Silver and Gold. There are four Sections to the Programme that must be done for a specified minimum period of time, for each level: Skills; Physical Recreation; Service and; an Adventurous Journey. In addition, a Residential Project is required for the Gold level. On achieving an Award, participants would have developed many skills, behaviours and attitudes that equip them to succeed in life and work.